On Wednesday, President Donald Trump became the first US president to be impeached twice. In a historic vote, at least 232 Representatives voted in favour of impeachment, including 10 Republicans, making it the most bipartisan impeachment vote in US history. In all, 197 members of Congress— all Republicans — voted against impeachment, and 5 people abstained from voting.
The current charge for the impeachment resolution against Trump is singular: "incitement of insurrection." This vote comes just one week after Trump galvanised his supporters who violently attacked the Capitol in an attempted coup. Following the attack, Trump did not denounce the attackers and instead said that he "loves" them.
In the following days, the president was banned from all major social networking platforms, while several members of Congress called on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment and remove him from office immediately. Pence was given 24 hours to decide whether or not he would do so, and officially declined the option on Wednesday, telling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that he did not “believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution.” This led Pelosi to take the impeachment resolution to the House floor on Wednesday.
The next step in all this is that the Senate will conduct a trial. If a two-thirds majority supports Trump’s removal, he will be convicted on political crimes and removed from office. The first time around, Utah Senator Mitt Romney was the only Republican to vote for Trump’s conviction (and only on one of the two impeachment counts), but this time, the Democrats might be able to expect more GOP support in the Senate. Along with Romney, Republican Senators including Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse say they would also consider supporting the movement.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is also reportedly “pleased” that there is a movement to impeach Trump, according to The New York Times, but he has declined to call an emergency Senate session that would speed the process. As a result, the trial will likely happen after Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration. And Pelosi has already named the nine Democrats who will serve as impeachment managers.
This all unfolded pretty quickly, particularly in comparison to Trump's first impeachment. Following the violent 6th January attack on Capitol Hill, US House Democrats unveiled a resolution to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection. “President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperilled a coequal branch of Government,” they wrote on Monday. “He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”
So, what happens if Trump is impeached by the Senate, too? If convicted, Trump will be disqualified from ever taking office again in the future. He could also lose the benefits he’s currently guaranteed under the Former Presidents Act, which include a $200,000 (£175,000) pension and an annual travel budget.
The House of Representatives first impeached Trump in 2019 after a whistleblower alleged that he abused his power and solicited help from Ukrainian authorities ahead of the 2020 election. He was acquitted by the Senate in 2020.
Hopefully, the bipartisan support in the House of Representatives for Trump's impeachment means that there will be similar support in the Senate this time around.